COVID-19: IFC partners CEPI to boost vaccine production in African countries

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance, to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases in low and middle-income countries.

The partnership was announced in a statement on Thursday.

The statement said that starting in Africa, CEPI and IFC will evaluate and identify countries, partners, and projects best positioned to create commercially viable vaccine manufacturing hubs to increase vaccine access in underserved areas.

The organisations said the African continent – home to over 1.2 billion people – imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and use 25 per cent of the global vaccine supply.

“In their memorandum of understanding, IFC and CEPI agreed to collaborate to unlock opportunities for commercially viable vaccine production in low and middle-income countries,” the statement reads.

“CEPI will help IFC evaluate the technical aspects of potential projects and capability requirements of its prospective investees and technology transfer partners.

“CEPI will assist in assessing technology capabilities of manufacturers, vaccine product portfolios, the versatility of suppliers in producing different kinds of vaccines, and identify critical success factors required for sustainable local vaccine production.

“This new collaboration aims to find opportunities for IFC to invest in co-developing vaccine manufacturing projects in partnership with local and international vaccine manufacturers, and to mobilize financing and other support for these projects.”

Speaking on the collaboration, Richard Hatchett, chief executive officer of CEPI said: “There is an urgent need to support low-income and middle-income countries to build their public health resilience and capacity to deal with emerging infectious threats.”

“Strengthening vaccine manufacturing capabilities within these countries is not only crucial for improving equitable access to vaccines, it is also a critical part of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and our collective security.

“CEPI’s collaboration with the IFC aims to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in lower-income regions and in the long-term help to enable a rapid response to outbreaks and boost vaccine supply for vulnerable populations, protecting lives and livelihoods.”

Tomasz Telma, IFC’s senior director for manufacturing, agribusiness and services, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown how inequities around vaccine access were preventing a global recovery.

“Encouraging new, viable locations and markets for vaccine manufacture is essential to solving this problem,” Telma said.

“Developing vaccine manufacturing capacity in emerging markets in Africa and around the globe is crucial for building a more resilient global health system.”

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